Tag Archives: Judaism

The Day My Parents Lied to Me: “Shame on Them”

Mehran Banaei

I must have been 3 or 4 years old. After half a century, the memory of that day is still vividly fresh in my mind with so many details. It was my mother who came to me the day before and told me that tomorrow is “take kids to work day”. With her innate caring charm, she asked if I would like to have fun by allowing my father to take me to his work. She got me excited and I replied “yes”, with so much enthusiasm.  My father was a civil engineer working on construction sites in the suburbs surrounded by natural beauties. I went to bed that night and looked forward to having fun the next day by running around in the prairie.

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In the morning, my mother dressed me up with nice clothes and made me wear clean underwear. She told me: “today your dad is working at the hospital.” I knew my father also had a second job in the local hospital in our home town. I was disappointed about not being able to be in nature, but still was excited about the opportunity to get out of the house.

On our way to his work, my father tried to explain his job, working as a radiologist at the department of Medical Imaging. It was my first trip to a hospital and I did not find anything exciting about the hospital environment. I recall, I spent the most of the day waiting in the waiting area full of sick people, or around the garden at the front entrance of the hospital smelling violets and daffodils. By mid-day I was getting restless and bored, told my father that I wanted to go home. My father then introduced me to a nurse colleague and said she can show me an operation room before heading home. The nurse holding my hand took me alone inside, straight to an operation room. She asked if I wanted to play the game of “doctor and patient” and I would be the patient being operated on. I agreed. She put me on the operation bed. The next thing I knew I was surround by a few doctors and nurses. I thought it was all a game, until a male doctor removed my pants and started to touch my private parts. Even at such an early age I recognized that to be ungentlemanly conduct, felt very uncomfortable being exposed and helpless. So, broke into tears. I remember too well another doctor with an unpersuasive smile put a black rubber on my nose and I quickly went into a deep sleep.

The next thing I recall, I woke up at home in my room, being slightly in pain, wearing a skirt with blood stains, surrounded with boxes of sweets and pastries, and couple of new toys at my bedside.

It took me a few more years to learn what happened to me that day was a simple medical procedure called circumcision, which all my peers have gone through. I do not recall either one of my parents ever lied to me again, not even a white lie. Despite that haunting experience, in my book, my parents never lost their credibility or my respect.

While growing up, for years I kept asking myself, why did my parents lie and set me up? Were they at fault? Would there not have been a better alternative than deception to handle what was coming to me? Foremost, how would I have reacted to any other possible approaches?

I suppose another option would have been for my parents to tell the truth at the outset and allow me to make that decision for myself, after all, as the civil libertarians advocate it is my penis. My father could have come to me saying: Son, Piaget the renowned Swiss developmental psychologist argues that you can handle the truth at any age. I see it in you, you will grow up to study philosophy and logic. You will be a man of reason and rationality. So, let’s talk man to man, let me give it to you straight: Your Mom and I are concerned about your hygiene. We are committed to prevent you from having penile problems, such as having a decreased risk of urinary tract infections. More so, when you grow up, we like you to have a decreased risk of sexually transmitted disease. We would like to avoid, you suffering from phimosis, which is an inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis. Beware that the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract. By being more hygienic as such, this helps your future wife to reduce the risk of having cervical cancer.

Relax and do not confuse this simple medical procedure with a form of cruel barbaric genital mutilation or allow yourself to suffer from a Freudian notion of castration anxiety. The doctor involved is the best surgeon in this field. Trust him. He is going to cut just the top skin, not the whole thing.  It is recommended that this surgery to be done at an early age. I assure you that the idea is safe. It has been practiced for thousands of years by all Muslims, Jews and boys from certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia. Despite what you may hear later from secularists and atheists, we are not trying to indoctrinate you or subjugate you to a cruel religious ritual. If you don’t believe me, I offer you a Popperian falsification, go head make my day, consult with the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP). I take it you understand everything. So what do you say, do you agree to a prepucectomy? If so, please sign the consent form after consulting this matter with your lawyer.

Regardless of how smart a kid may be, even a genius 3-year-old is still a 3-year-old child. In retrospect, when I think of it; my parents indeed handled this in the best possible way. They unconditionally served my best interest with no appeal to cruelty or indoctrination. The reason for their lie was to eliminate the fear factor for a 3-year old child. My experience was void of any imposed religious or cultural flavour. In fact, I would not have known what happened that day, if the medical team had acted more diligently, by putting me under anesthesia first before starting the operation. Far from child abuse, my parents’ actions were no different than when Western parents tell stories about the tooth fairy to a child who is about to lose a tooth. How is the former considered as indoctrination but the latter is not? Why is it that parents like mine must be “ashamed”, are accused of cruelty motivated by religious dogma, having indoctrinated their children like a cult leader?

From Hitchens point of view, circumcising a little boy is a “shameful” and “inhumane” act. However, Hitchens had no problem supporting the invasion of Iraq which resulted in the death of over 200,000 innocent Iraqis, most of whom were children. Is this not a case of hypocrisy, or perhaps a convoluted perspective on what is “humane” and “inhumane”? He blatantly ignores researched data which disagree with his position.

The other opponents of the practice of circumcision are the far right anti-immigrant groups in Europe and North America, who think in Rome, immigrants should only do what Romans do. They take an offence, if the penis of an immigrant does not look consimilar to theirs. Similar to opposing to Halal/Kosher dietary practices or observing dress codes, circumcision is also under attack. Its practice seems taken as a big threat to Western values, values which are supposedly built on Judo-Christian heritage, and loudly broadcast tolerance and pluralism.

Like atheists, this group is also arrogantly attacking the practice of circumcision under the pretence of intellectualism blended with a self-acclaimed superior sense of morality and concerns for children’s welfare. In reality, their campaign to demonize and ban circumcision is nothing short of racism and xenophobia.

What motivates me to write this article is because I am getting sick of seeing how secularists like Hitchens, Dawkins and Krauss elevate themselves intellectually and morally high by painting their opponents as being stupid and barbaric. The current anti-theist movement revolves around a campaign that we the atheists are rational, objective; believe in science, and the theists are barbaric and close-minded. For Nothingness sake, for the love of natural selection, in defense of atheistic view, at least say something rational, objective and scientific.

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